Two-minute heart rate recovery after cycle ergometer exercise and all-cause mortality in middle-aged men

J Intern Med. 2011 Dec;270(6):589-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2011.02434.x. Epub 2011 Aug 25.


Background: A slow heart rate recovery (HRR) after an exercise test is associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality in asymptomatic individuals, but the data regarding additional prognostic information provided by HRR beyond other exercise test variables are inconsistent. We investigated the prognostic significance of HRR for premature death, particularly in relation to other exercise test variables.

Methods: The study subjects were a representative population-based sample of 1102 men (42-61 years of age) without cardiovascular disease, cancer or diabetes. HRR was defined as the difference between maximal HR and HR 2 min after a maximal symptom-limited exercise test using a cycle ergometer. The association between HRR and premature mortality was examined with Cox regression models.

Results: During an average follow-up of 18 years, 238 deaths occurred. HRR was an independent predictor of death [for a decrease of 12 beats min(-1) , relative risk (RR) 1.16, 95% CI 1.02-1.33, P = 0.02] after adjustment for age and established risk factors. When added in a Cox model with chronotropic response (decrease of 12 beats min(-1) , RR 1.09, 95% CI 0.93-1.27, P = 0.26) or cardiorespiratory fitness (decrease of 12 beats min(-1) , RR 1.12, 95% CI 0.98-1.30, P = 0.08), the association between a slow HRR and an increased risk of death was clearly weaker.

Conclusion: A slow 2-min HRR after a cycle ergometer exercise test was an independent predictor of death in healthy middle-aged men after accounting for demographic and clinical characteristics. However, it was no longer predictive after accounting for chronotropic response and exercise capacity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality*
  • Cause of Death
  • Cohort Studies
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test / methods*
  • Exercise Test / standards
  • Exercise Tolerance / physiology*
  • Finland
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality, Premature*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Proportional Hazards Models